Friday, September 23, 2011

Don’t be paranoid, just alert

Be glad we aren’t Florida! On the upside, Florida gets a ton more sun than we ever do. But on the downside, they ranked at the top for identity theft per capita in 2010.  

However, the Federal Trade Commission does say we rank 17 in the nation and reports that the top three identity theft types in our state are credit card fraud, phone or utilities fraud, and bank fraud.

We must be doing something right, though, because we’re getting farther away from the top of that infamous list every year:

ID Theft per capita rank

That’s largely due to smart measures passed by the Legislature in recent years to prevent and fight identity theft, as well as protect its victims. These are some of those measures:

  • Senate Bill 5418:  identity theft victims can place a security freeze on a credit report, thus keeping credit bureaus from releasing information without permission.
  •  Senate Bill 5939: police and sheriff's departments must take reports from identity theft victims. 
  • House Bill 1012: it is illegal for anyone to transmit software to another computer without the owner's knowledge or to falsely entice someone to download software.
  • House Bill 1888: includes phishing scams in the state's spam statute. Phishing is when identity thieves try to trick consumers out of personal information by sending bogus e-mails that request that information online. 
  • House Bill 3144: the Department of Information Services creates a consumer protection web site that includes an entire section on identity theft. 
  • Senate Bill 5826: all residents can place a security freeze on their credit reports, not just ID theft victims. The law includes an easy ‘thaw’ mechanism to temporarily lift a freeze within 15 minutes of a request. 
  • Senate Bill 5878: law enforcement must take an ID theft report regardless of where the crime may have been committed. 
  •  House Bill 1127: credit card and debit card numbers on electronically printed receipts must be truncated.
  •  House Bill 1145: specifies that mail theft is a crime when a person steals mail addressed to three or more mailboxes and has a minimum of 10 pieces of stolen mail:

But the incidence of ID theft in our state has also reduced because Washingtonians are getting better at protecting their identities. 

To learn more about how to be your own information bodyguard, go to the Better Business Bureau’s website on ID theft prevention, or to the Attorney General’s website.

To read this blog post in Spanish, please go here.

Legislators help inaugurate new Peninsula College building today

If you happen to be near Port Angeles this afternoon, you may want to head over to Peninsula College and join in the Grand Opening Celebration of Maier Hall, which begins at 2:00 p.m. today.

Maier Hall is a new 62,950 square foot Business and Humanities building that includes writing, math, computer and foreign language labs, music classrooms and practice rooms, and a 131-seat performing arts space for music, film, and the spoken word.

The building's sustainable features, which include geothermal energy, daylight harvesting, natural ventilation, wetland restoration, and an innovative moss roof, will promote lower energy costs and a smaller footprint. 

Maier Hall was built with funding from the state's building construction account, part of the Capital Budget. The funds were allocated in 2009, although funding for the design phase of the project was awarded in 2007.

The 2011-2013 state Capital Budget included money for Peninsula College to renovate former military barracks at Fort Worden State Park into classroom space, which will enable the college to expand higher education access to residents of neighboring Jefferson County.

Today's celebration will include remarks by state Representatives Steve Tharinger and Kevin Van De Wege, whose district includes Port Angeles. The public is invited to join the celebration and tour the new building.

Photo:  Maier Hall, Peninsula College - Doug Scott 

To read this blog post in Spanish, please go here.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Transportation leaders roll through North Central Washington

Led by state Rep. Judy Clibborn, the Legislature’s Joint Transportation Committee (JTC) is getting an up-close and personal view of Wenatchee and other North Central Washington communities.  The two-day visit is part of a series of tours that are giving leaders a first-hand look at transportation needs and opportunities of communities across Washington.
“These tours are helping us to see the transportation challenges of every part of our state with open minds and a bipartisan spirit,” said Rep. Clibborn, who chairs the House Transportation Committee and is this year’s presiding co-chair of the JTC.

Clibborn added that “Washington has been well-served by cooperative leadership on transportation issues and budgets, and we need this healthy cooperation to continue as we set priorities and face the challenges ahead.”.

The two-day tour is taking Democratic and Republican transportation leaders—including State Transportation Secretary Paula Hammond—through Monroe, Stevens Pass, Leavenworth, Wenatchee, Quincy, Ephrata, Moses Lake, Othello and Ellensburg. 

At Stevens Pass, Reps. Judy Clibborn and Dean Takko took a look at a new electric-car charging station.

To learn more, take a look at the articles on the tour in the Ellensburg Daily Record and the Othello Outlook

Working hard on the playground

Simply voting in favor of legislation to promote a higher quality of life for our children isn’t enough for Rep. Tami Green. That’s why this week she’s putting her words into action and dedicating about 14 hours a day to serving as a Construction Captain for Playground by the Sound. From 7 a.m. to around 9 p.m., Tami suits up for a long day’s work of helping teams of volunteers to create a community-built playground in the North Meadow of Chambers Creek in University Place.

“Our children should always have access to a safe place to play, and this is a great opportunity for communities to work together to make that happen,” Tami said.

With the help of state funding and hundreds of volunteers, the playground will serve as a safe place for Washington families to lead active and healthy lifestyles. Tami and her fellow volunteers will continue their work on the playground through this Sunday. To learn more about Playground by the Sound, please click here.

Created with flickr slideshow.
To read this blog post in Spanish, please go here.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Prevention works – and it saves money

Washington state has been moving health care policy from a focus on paying for services to looking at results. 

Results like, better health

Preventing problems like diabetes and obesity in the first place, rather than simply paying to treat diseases. 

A story by KIRO 7 shows how this policy pays off, locally and statewide.  According to King County, the number of employees who smoked dropped by almost half – 40 percent.

In a time of budget cuts, the $26 million saved (over four years) was enough to fund the jobs of seven prosecutors, 12 sheriff deputies and 20 public health nurses.

To read this blog post in Spanish, please go here.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

As many as 1 in 10 first-year teachers drop out of the profession

An alarming number of first-year teachers leave the profession before they ever get to a second year, according to an article in the current Education Week magazine. The item reports a very recent study that tracked "a sample of public elementary and secondary school teachers who participated in the 2007-08 Schools and Staffing Survey, and whose first year of teaching was 2007 or 2008."

Teacher-retention is a goal certainly not lost on policymakers here in the Evergreen State. The compensation work group authorized in House Bill 2261, which was passed and became the law of the state in 2009, is directed to look at strategies promoting the keeping of teachers on the job.

Over at the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI), the Beginning Educator Support Team (BEST) program works to provide stronger support for young teachers. OSPI is striving to implement BEST in as many as 15 school districts and/or regional consortia. The 2011-2012 BEST grant recipients administered by the state superintendent office's Early Career Educator Development program were recently announced. Be sure and check out the winners at the BEST website. Just like any other budget item, of course, the future of the BEST program depends on the kindness of strange budget times.

Monday, September 19, 2011

In this edition of "Get to Know Your Legislator": Kris Lytton from the Fightin' 40th!

Hey Bellinghamians and Mount Vernonians!

When Kris Lytton was running for the office of State Representative, she made a commitment to always be available to the community.

As part of meeting that commitment, she would like to invite you to bring your lunch and stop by one of two locations throughout the rest of 2011.

Kris looks forward to the opportunity to discuss issues and share ideas with constituents as we head into the Fall and begin developing bills for the 2012 legislative session.

Here are the scheduled times and locations:
3rd Mondays in Bellingham
Whatcom Democratic Headquarters
215 W. Holly St., Suite B-27

1st and 3rd Wednesdays in Mount Vernon
Skagit Democratic Headquarters
300 A First Street

All are welcome!

For more information, call: 360.676.2105